2017 was a very lukewarm year for gaming but the biggest surprise of the year was the success of Nintendo's new console, the Switch. With record breaking opening year sales, matched only by the legendary PlayStation 2, the Switch is the most happening console since the launch of the younger Sony giant, the PlayStation 4.
SHOUT covered the hybrid handheld prior to its release, citing needed changes to Nintendo's approach in the console wars. And while the Switch's success can be played off as just sheer luck or good timing, there are a lot of internal factors equating to its success.
The first game changing decision Nintendo made was pushing the launch of their biggest titles into the Nintendo Switch's lifecycle as opposed to releasing them on the Wii U and as you might have guessed – I'm talking about the releases of Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. No other console has had two Game of The Year contenders in the first year of its launch and these two titles have helped Nintendo push consoles out of stores and into homes faster than any manufacturer ever did before.
Nintendo has sold over 10 million units of the console and they owe most of the success to their own IPs with 4 out of the 10 bestselling games of 2017 being Breath of the Wild (3rd most sold behind FIFA 18 and Call of Duty: WWII) followed by Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in 4th position and subsequently Super Mario Odyssey in 6th and Splatoon 2 in 8th. It is almost inspiring to see games as daring and as creative as the new Mario and Zelda become as popular as they did.
While the Switch has swept the world away with its unique approach to gaming, there are still a lot of people in the unknown when it comes to this piece of hardware and by that I mean, us the Bangladeshi folks.
If you are still unaware of what the Nintendo Switch is, then this is a good place to learn whether the console handheld hybrid is a good fit for you. The Switch is unlike any other console before it. While it is considered as a competitor to Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, the Switch is primarily a handheld. The console's selling point however is that it can do both. In docked mode, the Switch functions like any other console. Prior to its launch one of my biggest worries was whether the handheld mode of the Switch was going to be gimped but after spending some time with the console, those fears have been put to rest. In handheld mode, the sizeable display outputs 720p, and 1080p in docked mode. So you can play the same games with the same graphical fidelity both ways. The controllers attached to each side (dubbed as Joy-Cons) are detachable and have motion controls built into them, allowing some games (most notably the motion controlled fighter, ARMS) to take full advantage of the technology. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe allows for split screen co-op with only one console, making each individual Joy-Con perform like a separate controller.
Nintendo are infamous for not taking risks with console design and the same can be said about the Switch. They relied on their tried and tested handheld formula and motion controls they had used for the Wii and the Wii U. The only difference this time around is that, all of the features are properly fleshed out and have unique games taking full control of said features. While “taking advantage of your hardware” seems like the obvious thing to do in this day and age, this model has eluded Nintendo for the last couple of generations and it hurt them to a point where no one expected a well-rounded hardware from Nintendo, but along came the Switch. In a time when console manufacturers are all focusing on 4K, Nintendo decided to sell a comparatively underpowered console but with flexible control schemes and mobility.
Apart from Nintendo's own titles, the Switch has also seen the release of famous Bethesda titles such as Skyrim and the Doom remake. It also embraced Rocket League and the newly released Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The console also houses a whole host of indie titles like Shovel Knight, Stardew Valley, and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. This brings us to the second major reason for the success the Nintendo Switch has seen which is – a large library at release.
One thing all consoles have in common in their starting year is that there aren't many games to play on it. The case has always been especially worse for Nintendo where they had nothing but a Zelda and a Mario game to offer. But as of right now, there's always something to play on the Switch. Ports of games from generations prior sure, but the Switch allows you to play its entire library on the go which makes for a fresh take on games you may have played already.
The Switch has been one of the highest selling products of this year and so much so that Nintendo failed to meet expectations. With 25 to 30 million consoles being shipped to parts of the world for the next fiscal year, Nintendo is playing along with the projected growth that this year's performance has set up. But what will they do when the hype surrounding the Zelda and Mario fade?
For one, the next Pokémon game is set to be released next year on the Switch so fans of the series will finally get the full-fledged version of the game they have been waiting for. Besides their own IPs, Nintendo must keep on incentivizing third party developers. After years of trust fall between Nintendo and famous developers, it is finally starting to seem like the situation is finally favorable. They also need to provide consumers with something a little more unique than skins and extra loot in ports of games (I'm looking at you overgrown Link from Skyrim). But I am hopeful that Nintendo will capitalize on the amazing year they have had so far and will only go on to make more games and take more names.